A large piece of junk came up with the anchor when we pulled it up, then we
watched some seaplanes scooping water in
We decided to hire a car for the day & set off to see the local sights. First to Filitosa, a large site of
prehistoric menhirs, with rock shelters on a wooded
hillside overlooking a grassy plain with more menhirs
& a quarry. The menhirs are unusual in
that they have some details carved such as facial features & weapons. Leaving there we did a loop high in the hills
with magnificent views back towards the coast & then back through Propriano to the hilltop town of
A short trip (5nm) to anchor at Campomorro.
Mostly there were the usual comings & goings of an anchorage, but every so often some dolphins made a fleeting appearance.
We took a tea time stroll up the hill behind the anchorage & went round the Genoese watchtower with its commanding views. A feature of the Corsican coast is these numerous watchtowers, but few allow access.
Just about to up anchor when dolphins raced across our bow & into the bay. Could the fish farm further in have anything to do with their apparently regular presence?
There was a heavy swell & not much wind so it was a mostly motoring trip for the 26nm miles to Bonifacio arriving early afternoon in the long narrow inlet of its natural harbour.
Then it was climbing the steps to the Haute Ville, around & through the old town & past the cemetery to look at the view from the tip of the heights. We had supper at one of the harbourside cafes, taking in the hectic & bustling scene.
Left Bonafacio for 7nm trip to the Lavezzi islands (the French islands between Corsica &
Sardinia & part of the Maddalena nature reserve).
We had barely anchored when a trip boat arrived & as we could see others
approaching we unrolled the genny & departed for Isola Cavalli, Liscia (near Porto Pollo)
The beach was busy with swimmers, wind & kite surfers, but miraculously as dusk started to fall it was empty.
Mid morning departure for the 4.5nm to Cala Gavetta marina, La Maddalena.
Explored the town & finally tracked down the source of a permit ‘to navigate’ in the Maddalena nature reserve in a travel agents – the Park Office was closed (most of the time, not just the weekend). A fish supper at a resturant on the prom, followed by an Italian gelatti at the harbour.
We had to do a lot of work with the warps to get out of our berth because of wind direction, then another boat started pulling out towards our side. Fortunately the word STOP yelled very loudly seems to be universally understood, & his brakes worked, as we had nowhere to go. Drama over we started to explore the islands. 1st stop Cala Corsara on Spargi. Early afternoon that got busier so we moved on, just unfurling the genny. At Cala Spalmatore we were told the moorings were private & there would be a charge (we thought we’d covered the charges with our Park permit!) so we carried on to Cala Portese on Caprera, where we did pick up a Park Authority mooring. (14nm). It was a pleasant place, but the wind picked up overnight, as forecast, creating a swell.
With the wind still blowing we made a mid morning departure & motored around Caprera & west as far as Capo Orso on the mainland, before unfurling the genny & heading into the Gulf of Arzachena & anchoring at Cannigione at its head. 10nm.
I had spent 6 weeks there 20 something years ago, but failed to recognise anything much, apart from the Bay itself, because of the amount of development. There is a marina where before there were just a few moorings, & villas & hotels along the coastal strip. We had drinks on a Gibsea 43 (Blondie) owned by a British couple, Alan & Lesley, from the West Country, who were planning to overwinter in Cannigone.
After a walk on the beach we left Cannigione,
motoring to charge the battery, & headed for Porto Cervo. A friend from home is racing his Swan at
Porto Cervo sometime early September & we had
seen large racing fleets around in the distance so we hoped for a chance to
meet up with him. However the anchorage at Porto Cervo
was buoyed off – presumably for the racing fleets & there seemed
little chance of finding a space there, so we unrolled the genny
& carried on southwards down the coast. We anchored behind Isola di Porri
Left the anchorage & went to look at Isola Tavolara. This is a huge flat topped island that dominates the horizon for miles in all directions. Part is occupied by the military & the rest has restricted access as it is a nature reserve. The beach certainly looked lovely but at 10am trip boats were already delivering visitors, so it was soon going to be fairly crowded.
We went on our way with a force3 beat. After one tack we realised the log was under reading, but Doug was able to clear the obstruction. Off Punta de la Batteria we saw several dolphin in the distance. Early afternoon we arrived at the marina for La Calletta, identified by a tower on the point. 27nm.
It was a busy little town, but much less developed than further north & seemed to me much more like the Cannigione I had known years ago. We went to a resturant near the marina in the evening & then walked round the Tower, more of a scramble really.
Took the bikes north to the little town of
Left La Calletta with a cloudy sky & no wind. The wind tempted us to try sailing once or twice then died away again, or went on the nose. Early afternoon we sailed in circles to keep the wheel in one position while Doug adjusted the autohelm which was squeaking. Some dolphin chose that moment to appear, but after one had done a nice jump abeam of us they decided we didn’t know what we were doing as we couldn’t steer straight & promptly departed. Half an hour later the wind went again & a few large drops of rain fell. About tea time we arrived at Santa Maria Navarresse just north of Abartax. 42nm, lots of motoring. There was a large discrepancy between the electronic chart & our GPS. We continued to notice this further down this coast.
After checking out the town (up a hill!) we found a pizza bar, with a lovely view over the bay & along the beach, for supper.
It had rained heavily overnight, but with clearing skies we decided to chance a walk in the hills. We had a route from the Tourist Office which took us up on narrow tracks through scrub & woodland & a few small fields. Our destination was Mt Oro - 569m but a little bit more with the ups & downs of the route, described as ‘facile’. It was a steady climb along the land side of the coastal ridge, passing several rocky buttresses which the map showed as being used for climbing. The night’s rain accentuated the lovely herby smells. Then high up, looking across the valley to the central mountains, with no sign of human habitation around, we were picked up by a cat. Apparently young & very skinny it insisted on getting under our feet while escorting us to the summit, even with a detour when we lost the way. Every effort to discourage it was treated as a game, & eating our sandwiches was rather fraught. It finally departed on the way down at about the same point on the path where it had found us, while we made our weary way back to the boat.
Woke to rain & with a windy forecast so it was a morning of round tuits & when the weather cleared we walked south along the beach & the watched some climbers on a buttress that formed the end of the northern harbour wall.
Leisurely departure – motoring, no wind - from
Porto Corallo was in the process of rebuilding/development so was not exactly prepossessing although there was lots of space. It was backed by a campsite with a few extra facilities such as a small shop. We never made it to the nearest town a couple of miles away. Again there was a discrepancy between charts & GPS.
Another leisurely departure & again the choice of forecasts, & guess
what, we picked the one we liked.
Yesterday’s reefs came out with a nice NWesterly
3 to 4, then a hour later we were
motoring in virtually no wind. Lunchtime brought a force 5 on the nose &
one reef went back in. Mid afternoon we rounded Capo Carbonara
& as we beat up the
We wandered round the Botanical gardens, complete with Roman cisterns &
caves as well as plants, then climbed to the higher
town & ‘elephant’ tower with its commanding views. Then on
further past the
Departed the marina for the fuel berth, & then another beat in the
Went for walk along coast past an old fort, towards the cape, but had to turn inland & discovered a huge salina, Stagno Notterie, then another beach as we were on an isthmus, very surprising & pleasant.
Took the bikes up the hill to the town of
A windy morning, so some round tuits, then in the
afternoon we went to the beach by the old fort (Fortezza
Vecchia) for a swim. With showers still looming we
went to eat in the
Left Villasimius initially sailing, but the wind
was fickle so the engine went on & off again at fairly regular intervals.
We thought we saw a distant dolphin fin as we cleared the
Mid afternoon we passed the 3000nm logged on this year’s trip. I must try to get the ‘boss’ to work out rhumb line figures as the log is lower than actual.
Then we discovered a small tear near the luff of the mainsail, so that meant a hasty stitch & stick job to stop it spreading, & we decided the cause was chafe caused by the friction of the reefing pennants.
As dusk fell there were flashes of sheet lightening turning the sky white, very odd as there was no sound of thunder & no very obvious storm clouds, but anything that might have produced the same effect, such as lighthouses or volcanoes, were too far away to be the source. We were motoring as the wind was too light to push us through a nasty ‘stopping’ swell at any useful speed.
In the early hours the wind picked up & we sailed with the genny poled out. Then to our amazement there was a thump & a flying fish landed at Doug’s feet. We got a photo before returning it to the sea minus a few blue scales. Quite an impressive ‘flight’ as our topsides are fairly high. Later in daylight we could see blue scale marks where other flyers had hit the topsides & not made it on deck.
Mid morning we approached the
The wind (from the SE) was picking up & making the anchorage uncomfortable so it was a prompt departure, on a beat with 1 reef in the main from the start. The wind increased so another reef & some rolls to the genny went in. Then came black clouds, a force 5 & heavy rain, then the wind dropped to SE2 (still on the nose) & the rain continued, so we motorsailed. Midday, still with pouring rain we arrived at Mazara del Valo harbour, where the harbour master appeared looking very dapper in white trousers & holding an umbrella, & directed us in to a very tight spot – in fairness it did appear to be the only one remaining, & we were glad of it. He didn’t look quite so dapper by the time he’d caught our warps & we’d all shoehorned the boat into the gap. A very wet 28nm, & also one of the most expensive harbour berths we have come across.
Later the rain abated & we had a look round the town which serviced a large fishing port. There were some very old & attractive buildings, but while some had been renovated some were urgently in need of some tlc.
Left Mazara del Valo motoring until we rounded Cabo Granitola when we could lay the course. From mid morning on there were lots of trawlers about & we needed to take avoiding action several times.
Mid afternoon we arrived at
Went to one of the harbourside fish restaurants in the evening.
Spent the day in Sciacca, firstly some provisioning in a conveniently near supermarket, then exploring the town. The main part of the town is up various steep roads & steps to a grand terrace/promenade overlooking the harbour & sea – the obvious place for lunch. It was a fascinating old town with churches, little squares, medieval walls & gatehouses & still further up the hill a ruined Spanish castle, but perhaps the most interesting building was the Town Hall, an ex Jesuit College & its church. This made for two huge enclosed courtyards on different levels, opening on to different streets & linked by a stone staircase. We also went to look at the thermal baths, but only a modern pool seemed to be accessible, not the Roman ones I had read about.
On returning to the harbour we found an English J109, called
‘Squibs’, berthed alongside. Her owner, Ken, was en route to
A prompt departure from Sciacca, motoring until a west wind filled in about
mid morning. Around lunchtime we diverted towards Porto Empedocle,
to try to get a view of the temples at
Relaxing with the ‘cuppa’ we were treated to a very close view of a kingfisher who was using a waterpipe on the quay as a fishing perch.
The harbour master was a Geordie, living in a campervan at the end of the quay.
The town itself was rather run down, although there was a useful chandlery,
& it is a very convenient jumping off point for
An early start to the day as Squibs, who intended to leave at 7am, got hooked on our ground lines ( the lines leading out to a chain or blocks to hold boats at right angles to the quay), with one between his keel & his rudder. It took a lot of heaving & easing of all our lines to extricate him, & we were very grateful to a helpful Sicilian who appeared on the quay, took a shore line & pulled or eased as requested.
After all this we decided to get underway & set sail for Gozo. We barely had the sails set when the wind died & we resorted to a mixture of motoring or motorsailing. There were a few ships about & some flying fish & something, possibly a dolphin, dived in the distance. Early afternoon some light rain came through & the visibility dropped so the radar went on. Fortunately the vis was not too bad as the local fishing boats did not show up on it at all, presumably as they are wooden! We also encountered a lot of what looked like floating boxes which were trailing longlines. They seemed to be anchored despite our depth sounder being ‘off the scale’, & we assume they are rounded up periodically by the fishing boats. Early evening we arrived at Mgarr harbour, which was fairly full, so we rafted to a large Aussie flagged catamaran. 67nm.
First job of the day was to do the ‘arrival’ formalities, a change to have no language complications. Then it was ‘watch for a gap’ on the regular visitors pontoon so we could stay a couple of days. The gap materialised as various boats departed & we duly moved, to be joined in an adjacent berth by Squibs, who had also had to raft overnight.
Close by was the local ‘taxi’ service to
Then it was a stroll round the harbour area with its typical vividly painted
fishing boats, the seaplane only pontoon, & curiously (to us at least) a
horse being bathed, & relishing it!
Next, a lunch of local cheeses & meats at a quayside bar watching
the ferries from
We took the bikes to the main town of
For our return route we decided to visit the Ggantija temples to the north of the main road. These date back to 2800 BC & it must have been a major feat to move & shape the huge stones of which they are constructed. For us it meant more hills to cycle up & a rather tortuous rough road back. Still, I think it was worth it.
A late morning departure from Gozo
for the couple of miles to anchor in the Blue Lagoon off Comino. It was
a grey cooler day, so the water was not so ‘blue’, but the trip
boats were still arriving in droves & disgorging their passengers onto the
little island. A few hardy souls lay on the beach & some even braved the
water. In the afternoon we unfurled the genny &
moved on to
There were a few people on the beach & what might have been a fashion
shoot, & on one side of the bay rows of fishing huts with a few fishermen
& some boat repairs on the go. It was a pleasant evening with a few lights
showing along the row of fishing huts, & in scattered hamlets on the surrounding
hills. The local